Find Solutions for Reluctant Readers and Send Atta-Boys to Faculty, Families

By Dr. L. Robert Furman, principal of South Park Elementary Center, South Park, Penn.

Positive reinforcement is a powerful tool. As reading champions for our students, we want to encourage our students to find pleasure in reading by helping them find titles that speak to their interests. Good reading experiences promote reading practice. The experiences become positive reinforcements in and of themselves. Positive reinforcement is also a way to build our school communities. And, as always, I have easy ways for you to check both priorities off your list.

Rob’s Quick Tech Tips:

• Find ways for students to communicate about and curate books. Check out goodreads.com.
• eCards from smilebox.com are a quick, easy, effective tool for helping educators recognize and connect with their school communities.

Literacy Tech Tool:

goodreads.com – When you’re dealing with struggling or reluctant readers, you want them to be able to get their hands on good books that will appeal to them. You also want them to be able to curate their books so they can rate and discuss what they liked and didn’t. Students learn from the experience of curating this information. Goodreads.com does all of the above. Just as with Scholastic’s Book Wizard (see my October column), students can search for titles according to their interests. On top of that, they can rate a book from one to five stars, and they can share their rating on social media. People can read their comments about the book, and they can read other people’s comments. They can even contact each other to discuss why they liked or didn’t like the book. It becomes this social interaction site. Kids can then start having conversations with other kids all over the globe about books they’ve read. That’s big in my mind. And once a student has read two or three books, the site will start kicking books back that the student should like.

Administrative Tech Tool:

smilebox.com – This is a wonderful way you can make and send ecards. So now you’re asking, “Why would a principal want to make ecards?” Positive reinforcement is a way we bond as a school family, so it’s important to take time to send an atta-boy to parents, students, and colleagues. Trouble is, it’s hard to find time to send cards. To make the process manageable, I have predesigned cards using my own graphics and our school emblem for birthdays, anniversaries, commending good observations, and showing thanks for supporting our community. All I have to do is add the name, click the email button, and send. The advantage is it’s very time-effective, yet it reminds people that you’re human and that you care. As with many apps, there’s a free side and a pay side. I use the paid service – which allows for unlimited storage of shared cards and allows me to include a music track – and now my lieutenant principal uses it to send ecards to everyone on our mailing list. On a side note, you can also use the site to create slideshows, collages, and scrapbooks. Gotta love a multitasker!

Dr. Furman is a guest blogger for The Huffington Post and the author of Instructional Technology Tools: A Professional Development Plan. Email tips or questions to him at Rob@FurmanR.com, or text him directly at 412-999-0449. Follow him on Twitter @DrFurman.
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